Hit the Books
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Fire your accountant! Well, maybe not, but you may not need to rely on him or her as much as you think. You can simplify paying your bills and receiving payments from clients with a little creative accounts-payable and -receivable. Many Web services offer inexpensive tools that will save you from some check-writing and trips to the bank. Take a look at your options:
X.com, formerly PayPal.com, is a familiar form of currency exchange for auction users, but did you know the company also offers business accounts? In addition to enabling you to send bills to customers, X.com will allow your customers to submit payments via your Web site and access a 24/7 customer service call center. Hoping to institute affiliate commissions, customer rebates or pay-to-surf rewards? X.com's "Batch Pay" feature allows you to make electronic payments via e-mail. In return for all these features, X.com charges a 1.9 percent fee on incoming payments.
For both online and real-world sales, iEscrow.com adds an extra level of arbitration and security for any product or service and is especially useful for precious or expensive goods. For a service fee of about $2.50, the buyer and seller can both feel more secure about exchanging money. Buyers can be certain to receive exactly what they want to purchase, and sellers can protect themselves from fraudulent credit card or check transactions. With iEscrow, you'll also be able to process international purchases for your business in U.S. dollars.
Targeting the business user, OneCore.com hopes to be the one-stop bank, loan officer, accounts manager and payroll department for your entire office. OneCore handles cash accounts as well as bill payment and credits, but it also takes care of your company's paychecks, 401(k) plan and more. The site can even direct you to an appropriate credit card or business loan. Though at times unresponsive, the OneCore site has the potential to save you a lot of precious time and money.
Karen Solomon is a San Francisco-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Industry Standard and Wired News.